BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

The Customs, Ceremonies, Traditions, Superstitions, Fun, Feeling,
And Festivities Of The Christmas Season.

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ST. THOMAS'S DAY.
143
huddling round the blazing fire ; and awaken those impressions of the wild and shadowy and unsubstantial, to which tales of mar­vel, or of terror, are such welcome food. But other inspirations are born of the blaze itself; and the jest, and the laugh, and the merry narration, are of the spirits that are raised within the magic circles that surround it.—
" They should have drawn thee by the high heap't hearth,
Old Winter ! seated in thy great armed-chair, Watching the children at their Christmas mirth;
Or circled by them, as thy lips declare Some merry jest, or tale of murder dire,
Or troubled spirit that disturbs the night; Pausing at times to move the languid fire,
Or taste the old October, brown and bright."
The song and the story, the recitation and the book read aloud, are, in town and in village, mansion and farmhouse—amongst the universal resources of the winter nights, now,—as they, or their equivalents, have, at all times, been. The narratives of " old adventures, and valiaunces of noble knights, in times past," —the stories of Sir Bevys of Southampton and Sir Guy of War­wick, of Adam Bell, Clymme of the Clough, and William of Cloudesley—with other ancient romances or historical rhymes, which formed the recreation of the common people at their Christ­mas dinners and bride-ales, long ago, may have made way for the wild legend of the sea, or fearful anecdote
" Of horrid apparition, tall and ghastly,
That walks at dead of night—or takes its stand O'er some new opened grave, and, strange to tell, Evanishes at crowing of the cock;"
and for the more touching ballads which sing of the late repent­ance of the cruel Barbara Allan,—
" 0 mither, mither, mak my bed, 0 mak it saft and narrow ; Since my love died for me to-day, I'll die for him to-morrow;"—
or, how the
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